Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why Atheists Shouldn't Be Insulted Over Threats of Eternal Damnation

One of my favorite blogs, "Atheist Revolution" had a rather interesting post yesterday. The topic regards a statement from  a well-known evangelist, Mark Driscoll, that all non-Christians are hell-bound. An important point made in that post is whether at least some of Driscolls followers agree with him.

This may in turn also lead to the question that for every influential fundamentalist like Driscoll who comes up with this kind of remark, how many other Christians feel the same but aren't as vocal about it as he is. Probably not very many. Fundamentalists like these usually aren't shy about expressing their hellfire opinions to anyone who will listen and of course even to those who aren't interested. Importantly though, for non-Christian theists such rhetoric may be hurtful and outrageous.

But as an atheist, I couldn't care less that some Christian fundie says that I'm going to a place that  doesn't even exist. His beliefs  are so wrong on so many levels that it's futile to try to have an intelligent discussion with people like that.  Naturally, if you call them down with logic and reason and ask for evidence for their assertions, they'll just say that it's in the bible and may even quote chapter and verse to support their contention.  If you  counter with another biblical passage that contradicts their position, they'll just mumble something about "your incorrect understanding"  and / or change the topic.

So what it comes down to is this: In God-centered religions, especially Christianity, there are no objective standards, just interpretations about stories that never even happened and characters who likely never existed in the first place.  And debating believers on their terms in these matters  is about as productive as arguing over the color of unicorns. 

4 comments:

Jack Vance said...

Thanks for the kind mention. For me, the issue isn't one of feeling insulted or even thinking that Driscoll shouldn't have said what he said. It has more to do with what the sentiment "believe what I do or burn" says about the morality of those who believe such things.

Technically, these beliefs do not affect me either...until they are translated into behavior. The idea that some people are destined for hell has been used to justify quite a bit of cruelty in the world. And people who hold these beliefs do not seem particularly shy about trying impose their beliefs on the rest of us through laws, etc.

Secular Guy said...

Jack,

You're most welcome. I agree that the hateful words of religious fanatics and their followers reveal their true character and that dangers that abound when these people use their beliefs to justify evil deeds.

But as long as their actions are confined to just stupid remarks, they are laughable.

mikespeir said...

Your point is taken, of course, and I don't mean to argue against it as far as it goes. On the other hand, it's painfully hard to lose track of the fact that we have to get along in a culture populated in part by people with beliefs like that. And whether there's any substance to their claims or not, those beliefs color the way they look at us and affect how they relate to us. The expectation that I have to subscribe to those beliefs or I'm a bad person--bad enough that I merit eternal damnation--is indeed insulting.

Secular Guy said...

mikespeir,

Thanks for your input. The main reason that I'm not bothered by fundies' condemnations is that I (and may I assume you also?) don't believe in hell and damnation in the first. Nevertheless, it's too bad that those people have that kind of mentality that causes them to say hateful thing but to be so hateful to begin with. And inasmuch as there are so many more of them than there are us in American culture, that is not a pleasant state of affairs.